November 25, 2010

Giottos MH-680 VR Sliding Plate Review

Giottos MH-680 VR Sliding Plate
Through my quest for a low cost Arca-Swiss® compatible vertical L bracket, in order to create a panorama setup, I came across this universal L bracket by Giottos®. Giottos names this L bracket as a Virtual Reality (VR) Sliding Plate.

The "L" dimensions are 175 X 175 mm (6.89 X 6.89") quite capable of accommodating even large Pro camera bodies or cameras with a battery grip, but the thickness of the structure does not inspire the rigidity required for a heavy weight champion.









The VR Rail

Giottos MH-680 VR Sliding Plate (Large)
MH-680 VR comes wrapped in a nylon bag, in a recycled-carton box. It is accompanied by a small Allen hex key for the plate joining screws, a product card with Quality Check stamp, a warranty card and a single sheet Manual explaining the parts and basic operating instructions.
The surface of the plates is covered with natural cork, which by the way I have painted black for aesthetical reasons. Further, on each of the rail sides exists a laser-engraved decimal scale in 1 mm increments and numbers starting 80-0-80 with zero (0) in the middle.
Giottos MH-680 VR Sliding Plate (bottom)
NH-680 VR L bracket comes with two 1/4"-20 and two 3/8"-16 captive screws equipped with D rings. The screws are pre installed one of each size in the rail slots.
The Back/Bottom view of the rails reveals the captive screw heads and the joining plate. The captive screws can be removed by turning around the red plastic washer at each slot end, until its open side faces the captive slot.
The thin Aluminium L plate that joins the two rails together is held by four flat-head hex screws on each side. The screws can be removed with the included Allen hex key, so you may come up with two separate sliding rails (long plates) that can be utilized otherwise.
There is a safety catch mechanism at the bottom of each rail, but it is only compatible with Giottos own quick release clamps which have an appropriately resided detent pin.



Adding a Quick Release Clamp

Giottos MH-680 VR Sliding Plate w/ QAL-500 QR Clamp
By adding a Fotopro QAL-500 Arca-Swiss® compatible 5 cm Quick Release clamp, the L bracket can be immediately interchanged between cameras equipped with an Arca-Swiss® compatible base plate. Something that proves useful for owners of more than one camera bodies.
Giottos MH-680 VR Sliding Plate attaching QAL-500 QR Clamp
The clamp can be attached with one of the 3/8"-16 captive screws and if tighten well, the cork prevents it from twisting.
Giottos MH-680 VR Sliding Plate ready w/ QAL-500 QR Clamp
Ready !
Single Row Panorama setup right side view
In the Create & Use a Single Row Panorama Head, article you may see how it can be utilized in a Single Row Panorama Head structure.

Conclusion
Giottos MH-680 VR has many qualities like scales and both 1/4"-20 and 3/8"-16 captive screws, can fit to "any" camera, but it also has some limitations as to the weight of the camera it can hold without bending or resonate to vibration, due to excess torque.
Nevertheless, it sells for half the price of similar brackets and if kept within limits, can be used as a universal vertical bracket for entry level or semi-pro DSLRs with a wide, standard or short telephoto lens.
The manufacturer does not mention any information about maximum weight, but after testing I would not recommend it for anything above 2,5 Kg (~5.5 lb)

I hope you found the information useful. Thank you for viewing.
All Photos: ©2010 S.C.Vlachos

Price & Availability:
Current price for the Giottos MH-680 VR Sliding Plate is US$ 75.00 (+Free Shipping in the US) and is available from Amazon.com
Please use above link(s) to make a purchase and help support this site.

Referenced Articles:
Fotopro QAL-500 5cm Quick Release Clamp
Create & Use a Single Row Panorama Head

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